Molokai residents outraged over conditions at island’s only health center

Updated: Oct. 11, 2019 at 7:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Molokai residents are calling for the head of the island’s only community health center to resign after the facility was forced to close for four days in August because of staff shortages.

More than 150 Molokai residents gathered in a community meeting two weeks ago to voice their concerns about the Molokai Community Health Center.

“The parents were crying because the children couldn’t have medication when they closed down,” said Judy Caparida, a lifelong Molokai resident.

Solene Duvauchelle says the partial closure had ripple effects throughout the community.

“My dad is one of the patients there. He tried to get his medication refilled, nobody answered,” Duvauchelle said. “No explanation. My dad needs his heart medicine on a daily basis. I ended up taking him to the ER. We had to admit him into the ER.”

MCHC’s CEO issued this statement to Hawaii News Now:

“We want to apologize to the patients who were affected by the closure, as it is never our intention to limit access to care. We have addressed the staff shortages that led to the medical department’s partial closure and are continuing to provide the best care possible to our community. It was an unusual circumstance that we do not believe will happen again.”

Residents say the apology is not enough and are now circulating a petition asking for the removal of the CEO and the executive board.

“Because it has to do with life and death situations, the board plays a big role in the decision making and direction of the CEO in conducting medical business,” said resident Cora Schnackenberg. “If these patients do not have their medication, they can be a danger to themselves and others.”

“Just remove yourself and let us start fresh. Let us do this for the community, the community is speaking out and trying to make things right,” added Duvauchelle.

MCHC is a federally qualified health center that provides medical, dental, behavioral health, health education and prevention services to more than 2,300 people on Molokai including many low-income families.

On such a small island, families who don't have other options say they deserve better.

“There’s always gatta be love because it’s life, you dealing with life. It’s safety. It’s everything to do with us,” said Caparida.

Residents will gather again on Oct. 15 at the Molokai Community Health Center at 5:30 p.m.

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